In a May 10, 2021, segment of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the Fox News personality implied that Dr. Anthony Fauci had suggested Americans should plan to wear their masks for the long haul.
The 13-minute segment began with Carlson criticizing Jeffrey Zeints, a business executive and government official serving as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator under U.S. President Joe Biden.
Just after the 3-minute mark, Carlson pivoted to an edited segment of NBC’s “Meet the Press” interview with Fauci.
“Here’s the nation’s most highly credentialed political operative, Tony Fauci, letting you know that actually, this mask thing is never going to end,” said Carlson.
During the NBC interview, host Chuck Todd asked Fauci if he expected mask policies to be put in place in a “seasonal effect.”
So what is this -- okay, let's get to mask-wearing. Because this is where, you know -- at what point can we stop wearing masks outside? At what point, if vaccinated people get together, do you take the masks off? … but is the mask going to be something we have with us in a seasonal aspect?
You know, that's quite possible. I think people have gotten used to the fact that wearing masks, clearly, if you look at the data, diminishes respiratory diseases. We've had practically a non-existent flu season this year merely because people were doing the kinds of public health things that were directed predominantly against Covid-19. The Australians during their winter, same thing. They had almost no flu largely due to the kinds of things including mask-wearing. So it is conceivable that as we go on, a year or two or more from now, that during certain seasonal periods when you have respiratory-borne viruses like the flu, people might actually elect to wear masks to diminish the likelihood that you'll spread these respiratory-borne diseases.
Carlson appeared to have made the jump that a “year or two or more” meant that people will “never be taking off the mask.”
“Get ready for a lifetime of filthy, wet cloth cotton covering your mouth. Reduced oxygen flow to your brain, and a world where every stranger looks the same because no one has a face,” said Carlson.
The Fox News host went on to use emotion-evoking language to further incite a response, suggesting that a photo of Vice President Kamala Harris kissing her husband through a mask was a “preview of your daughter’s wedding.”
“In a masked world, human beings never really touch each other,” continued Carlson, adding that Fauci was punishing the country rather than protecting it through proven effective public health policies and hygienic measures.
As is evidenced in the transcript, Fauci did not say that masks would be federally mandated for an indefinite period of time, but rather that people may independently choose to wear masks in highly infectious periods like the flu season given the available data that shows masks are highly effective at preventing the spread of respiratory diseases. We therefore rate this claim “False.”